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18 month sleep regression 

07 August, 2023

Ahh, sleep. It’s true a good night of quality shut-eye makes everything better. So when you think you’ve got sleep sorted and then your child starts waking overnight, it’s the last thing you need. Never fear, we know just what to do.

Childhood is a time of huge growth and experts agree it is vital children get adequate sleep to support them. The right amount of sleep helps them to grow, improves their brain function and makes them much happier little human beings – which is great for mums and dads too! But just to keep parents on their toes, a child’s sleep needs to evolve as they do!


What is 18-month sleep regression?

Just as you’re feeling settled in a routine that includes a full night’s sleep and perhaps two naps a day, something changes. Your little one may start waking in the night and sleep longer at nap times, or maybe they resist their daytime sleep. They may start having trouble falling asleep and become agitated and cry when they’re put to bed. It’s pretty common for this to occur as children’s sleep requirements change at around 18 months of age and it’s known as 18 month sleep regression.


What causes 18 month sleep regression?

It’s completely normal for children’s sleep requirements to change as they grow.

Experts say children at this age need between 11 and 14 hours of sleep each day, so be guided by that and perhaps see if your child’s sleeping routine needs tweaking. If they’re waking at night, they may need less sleep during the day. Perhaps they’re ready for one longer daytime nap instead of two. Other factors that can impact sleep around this age are teething discomfort or nightmares. Children may experience separation anxiety or seek greater independence.


How long does 18 month sleep regression last?

How long is a piece of string?! Each child grows and develops at their own pace and their sleep patterns will too. The quicker you find a new rhythm, the quicker their regression will be solved.


Do all children experience 18 month sleep regression?

Some children may experience sleep regression earlier or later than 18 months and some may not at all. Keep an eye out for the 18 month sleep regression signs and adjust their sleep schedule to suit their needs.


Common signs of 18 month sleep regression

So how can you tell if your child is experiencing sleep regression? The most common behavioural signs of 18-month sleep regression include:

  • Resisting bedtime or stalling bedtime;
  • Difficulty taking naps or falling asleep;
  • Waking throughout the night;
  • Waking up early each morning;
  • Mood swings and fussiness and;
  • Crying when without caregivers.
Tips for caregivers to manage 18-month sleep regression

When your child’s sleep is disrupted, it’s safe to assume your sleep is too. That makes everything harder. Recognising that you may be feeling tired and irritable should help you to be kind to yourself through this transition.

Be guided by your child’s tired signs. Encourage them to be physically active in the morning so they are tired and want to nap. Prioritise naps and then don’t let them sleep too long, however tempting it may be! You want to make sure most of their 11-14 hours of sleep happen at nighttime, so you can sleep too! Create a comfortable sleep environment and stick to the same bedtime each night. Once you find a balance that has everyone sleeping through the night again, stick with that routine – until the next times things change of course!


Edge Early Leaning’s approach to sleep regression

Edge Early Learning is committed to supporting parents. Talk to our educators if your child’s sleep requirements are changing. Our educators use various strategies as children’s needs evolve, such as encouraging them to have rest time or quiet time with a book in place of a nap, where appropriate.

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